Most of us love the change of seasons, and if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are you are enjoying the cool autumn air and the lovely shades of gold and auburn taking over the landscape.
Undoubtedly, you can’t help but notice the widespread media coverage on the dangers of the “flu season”, especially now with the ongoing swine flu pandemic, urging everyone to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals are pitching the flu shot as the only and best solution to prevent infection. But there is no mention of the ONE most important thing you can do to stay healthy during flu season, and it has to do with having a strong immune system.
Shhhh… This Subject is a Big Taboo…
It seems that any relevant discussion about the state of your immunity is a huge taboo, and this most critical component of health is NEVER discussed. But what if I told you that getting vaccinated could actually INCREASE your chances of catching the flu? If you asked my mother, she would wholeheartedly agree with this statement because that’s exactly what happened to her.
My mother and I are very close, and we often have conversations about different topics, including health issues. Of course, it is one of my priorities to stay on top of everything she does to stay healthy, and thankfully, she is incredibly healthy and looks (and acts) many years younger than her age.
A couple of years ago she called me on her way back from the supermarket where a lady in a booth convinced her to take the seasonal flu shot. I was very disturbed by this, not only because it is so unethical to prey on the elderly with scare tactics about the flu, but also because I knew that these shots are toxic and actually may do more harm than good.
Sure enough, approximately 10 days later, my mother fell ill with a terrible flu and was in bed for more than a week, with high fever and an awful chest cough. She had to take antibiotics and the cough lasted a few weeks until fortunately it all cleared up. Now bear in mind that my mother had never caught the flu for at least the last 20 years, and that one time when she actually got vaccinated, she suffered the worst flu case she could remember.
Can the Flu Shot do More Harm than Good?
Because I want to help you stay healthy – as our bone health more often than not reflects our overall health – I will go over the myths and the scientific truths about the flu and the flu shots. With this information in hand, you’ll have the tools to make an educated decision about getting the flu shot or not. So let’s get started with…
Myth # 1: The flu needlessly claims tens of thousands of lives every year
The truth: In order to convince you to take the flu shot, your doctor might try to scare you saying that influenza is the most frequent cause of death from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. Your health practitioner is most probably using the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claiming that from 1990 through 1998, an average of 36,000 flu-related pulmonary and circulatory deaths occurred each season in the United States.
What the CDC fails to disclose is that there is no way of knowing how many people who died from underlying respiratory and circulatory problems actually had the influenza infection. Records simply do not disclose that information, making this an inaccurate number of deaths related to the flu and a monumental scare tactic.
Myth # 2: Getting the flu shot protects you from catching the flu
The truth: Scientists agree that what gets you sick is not the actual virus but the condition of your immune system. In other words, a weak immune system is what may let you catch the flu.
As in my mother’s case, many people catch the flu after getting vaccinated. How can that be? The common sense answer is that vaccines actually compromise the immune system. In other words, the flu shot keeps the immune system “busy” fighting what most of the time ends up being the wrong type of viruses.
The sad truth rarely mentioned in the mainstream media and by health practitioners is that the vaccines are manufactured one year in advance. So, aided by researchers, vaccine manufacturers have to guess one year in advance which viruses will strike the next flu season. That is why more often than not, the flu outbreaks involve strains that do not match the current flu shot (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/96913.php). But the public is not informed of this mishap… Even so (and against all logic), the CDC still maintains that the shot could provide cross-protection against the new variant.
Myth # 3: Flu shots contain safe ingredients
The truth: Flu shots have many toxic and potentially dangerous chemicals. Because the virus strains are bred in eggs, sheep guts, monkey brains or fetal diploid tissue, manufacturers have to use potent preservatives to prevent bacteria or fungus from contaminating the vaccine. Most of the preservatives used are known to be toxic and some are even recognized carcinogens listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, some flu shots contain live “attenuated” viruses, capable of actually causing side-effects identical to the flu.
Would You Put these Toxic Chemicals in Your Body?
I randomly chose two popular flu shots and came up with a scary list of stabilizers and preservatives used in them. Antibiotics also act as preservatives in the shots, and I marked them with an asterisk (*).
Below are the brand names and the preservatives used in each:
Fluvirin by Medeva Pharmaceuticals
Contains influenza virus, neomycin*, polymyxin*, beta-propiolactone, chick embryonic fluid.
Beta-propiolactone is a potent and toxic disinfectant used to sterilize blood plasma, shots, tissue grafts, surgical instruments, and enzymes. It is also “reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen”, especially when injected into the bloodstream (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1999).
Flushield by Wyeth-Ayerst
Contains trivalent influenza virus, types A&B gentamicin sulphate*, formaldehyde, thimerosal, and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80), chick embryonic fluid.
Formaldehyde: please refer to Formalin.
Thimerosal is a mercury derivative and a highly toxic heavy metal that attacks every organ and system in the body. Thimerosal is made of thiosalicylic acid and a form of mercury called ethyl mercury. When all is said and done, mercury is 49.59% of the weight of thimerosal. Researchers have confirmed that it's unsafe to touch or swallow the mercury from a broken thermometer, yet health practitioners recommend that you inject the same poison directly into your body through a shot. Additionally, some studies have linked high levels of mercury to Alzheimer’s disease. Thimerosal is a registered pesticide with the Department of Pesticide Registration of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Polysorbate 80 (also known as Tween 80): Generally contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, it has been shown to have estrogenic alterative effects and cause reproductive disturbances in rats.
The Baffling Shot Paradox
If vaccinations are really effective, then those who choose to get the flu shot should be immune to the disease. So why is there such a strong push to vaccinate as many people as possible? Aren't those who get the shot protected anyways? And if this is true, we should ask doctors why, as statistics show, only 40% of health practitioners take the shot while practically 100% of doctors recommend the flu shot to their patients. Maybe they know something we don’t…until now.
Breaking News: Six Canadian Provinces Halt Flu Vaccinations
In an unprecedented move, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia have stopped their seasonal flu vaccinations, as reported in The Globe and Mail on 9/29/2009 (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/more-flu-programs-suspended/article1304958/). This is due to a controversial yet unpublished study indicating that those who took the flu shot were twice as likely to catch the swine flu.
Quoting from the article, “For those people still on the fence, this could very easily put them into the no-vaccine side of things,” said Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.” And Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba, agreed that the study “complicates” the situation, evidently not aware of the clear indication that shots actually distract the immune system and thus, greatly impair the ability to fight a full-fledged viral attack.
Ten Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System
The human body is fully equipped with mechanisms to stave off viruses and germs, so the key to preventing flu viruses is to maintain those systems operating at their peak. The good news is that you can strengthen your immune system with natural supplements, beneficial immune-specific foods, and by paying attention to a few simple lifestyle habits.
So whether you decide to get vaccinated or not, here are ten suggestions to naturally boost your immune system.
1. Vitamin D
We all know that flu season hits in the winter, when – especially in cold climates – we typically get very little or no sun exposure. You might be surprised to know that we carry a variety of influenza viruses throughout the year, so something must happen in the winter. Realizing this, researches searched for the connection, and found a strong correlation between Vitamin D levels and immunity (Source: Cannell et.al., On the Epidemiology of Influenza. Virology Journal, 2008;5:29). Good levels of Vitamin D are crucial to help you fight against viruses and to keep you healthy year round. Make sure you take at least 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 during the winter, regardless of sun exposure.
2. Aloe Vera
This multi-tasking plant believed to originate in Northern Africa, has long and thick leaves that contain a liquid gel, rich in valuable nutrients. Among other things, aloe gel contains high amounts of a long chain sugar called mucopolysaccharides which boost the immune modulators to fight off viruses and bacteria. They also penetrate all cell membranes and increase their fluidity and permeability, allowing toxins to flow out of the cell and nutrients to enter the cells. Drink 2 to 4 oz. of Aloe Vera juice, preferably cold-processed.
3. Mushroom Extracts (Shiitake, Reishi, Maitake)
these mushrooms have excellent immune-boosting properties. Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of lentinan, a polysaccharide that increases T-cell function and can be used for cooking. Reishi mushrooms contain immunologically active polysaccharides, mainly beta-D-glucan, that have potent immune-stimulating qualities. Maitake mushrooms are delicious and rich in a potent immune stimulant that enhances the activity of key immune cells. Try to incorporate these mushrooms in your daily menu and during the winter, take mushroom extract supplements.
4. Reduce Your Sugar Consumption
Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup raise your blood insulin levels, which in turn decreases the release of growth hormone and weakens your immune system. Glucose also competes with Vitamin C needed by white blood cells to kill viruses and bacteria. Scientific studies have shown that consuming 100 grams of sugar reduces the immune function by 50 percent within an hour. To give you an idea of what this measurement means, a level teaspoon of white sugar is 5 grams and about 20 teaspoons of sugar would amount to 100 grams. Sounds like a lot? Let’s do the math: one can of soda has the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar, and a 20 oz. bottle of regular soda has the equivalent of 15 teaspoons. Stay away from foods or drinks that contain large amounts of sugar and instead, whenever possible, use stevia, a natural plant-derived sweetener.
5. Vitamin C
The “Old Faithful” of antioxidants, Vitamin C plays an important role in the prevention of colds and the flu. A study involving marathon runners, skiers and soldiers training in the Arctic showed that taking an average of 625 mg of Vitamin C a day decreased the incidence of colds by 50% (Source: Douglas RM, Hemila H, D'Souza R, Chalker EB, Treacy B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004). Take 500 mg. of Vitamin C a day throughout the entire year to keep your immune system at optimum levels.
This delicious culinary ingredient has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties, and has long been used to fight off and prevent colds and infections. The active ingredient is allicin, and it is present in both raw and cooked garlic. Try to eat two garlic cloves a day, and if you don’t want to have “garlic breath”, add two crushed cloves to your favorite recipe or take a garlic supplement.
Friendly intestinal bacteria play a key role in keeping the immune system functioning at optimal levels. They compete with pathogens for cellular nutrients, thereby inhibiting the “invader’s” growth. One type of probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, prevents allergens and pathogens from entering the bloodstream. An article published in Nutrition Research (2001) shows that taking L. rhamnosus results in increased levels of leucocyte phagocytosis, a marker of immune activity. My recommendation: eat at least 8 oz. of unsweetened plain yogurt each day as a natural source of probiotics. You can use stevia or honey as a sweetener, and sprinkle with granola for crunch. If you have taken antibiotics in the past, you should take a supplement for at least six months to bring your intestinal flora up to par, and then continue with the yogurt.
This essential yet often ignored trace element helps support the immune system. A study in men and women aged 65 and over found that taking 25 mg/day of zinc a day for only three months increased levels of circulating immune cells known as CD4 T and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (Source: Fortes C, Forastiere F, Agabiti N, et al. The effect of zinc and vitamin A supplementation on immune response in an older population. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 1998). Make sure you take 25 mg. of zinc every day year-round, as it is also very important to your bone health. Chelated zinc is the best and most absorb-able form.
9. Vitamin E
This potent antioxidant is made up of four tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-). However, alpha-tocopherol is the most commonly form of vitamin E found in the blood and tissues. In fact, even though the main function of Vitamin E is that of an antioxidant, alpha-tocopherol in particular appears to have a beneficial effect on the molecules and enzymes in immune cells. Scientific studies show that as little as 200 IU of alpha-tocopherol can significantly increase immunity against a variety of respiratory infections (Source: Meydani SN, Leka LS, Fine BC, et al. Vitamin E and respiratory tract infections in elderly nursing home residents: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004). Since the flu typically attacks the respiratory tract, it is wise to take at least 200 IU of Vitamin E, and make sure that your supplement has alpha-tocopherol in it, should you decide to take a mixed tocopherol formula, which is also fine.
It’s especially important during the cold and flu season to keep from getting run down. Try to get at least 6 hours of quality sleep a night. Here’s one hint: if you are physically active during the day, you’ll be tired at bedtime. So avoid long hours of inactivity and keep moving as much as possible.
Do you have any flu shot stories you’d like to share? Join the conversation and share them with the community below.